Although one of the smallest in numbers, the arum family comprises some of our most quaint and interesting flowers. Its characteristics are strongly marked and its tastes appear to be most patrician. We may believe that it does not concern itself about the fashions, as it makes no attempt to follow the modes of other noted families; but continues its own conservative way of bearing its flowers closely packed on a thick spadix and usually sheathing them with a handsome spathe.
These tiny flowers are often imperfect and sometimes naked, - that is, without calyx or corolla. When the latter are present they are seldom highly coloured. Under the microscope they are excellent studies and sometimes very beautiful.
As a family they show a keen appreciation of harmony in the exquisite blending of colours in the spathe, or by its appearing spotlessly white.
The white calla, the stately queen of the greenhouses, Jack in the pulpit and the skunk cabbage are all conspicuous members. The golden club is the wayward exception, in having no spathe. All are widely dissimilar in appearance and hold different positions in life, and yet they bear so strongly the marks of this exclusive family as to be at once recognisable. The leaves are mostly rather netted-veined and the plants contain an acrid, pungent, watery juice. Many of them are also known as yielding an edible farina, or starch.